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Messages - staehpj1

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16
Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike Followup
« on: July 16, 2015, 08:30:44 am »
Ok, I'm confused and have been for the past month of being introduced to the touring side of bicycling.  I'm guessing that the longtime tourers understand the reasons but I still don't understand.

In reading the articles, blogs, discussion groups it seems there is a consensus for most people in what are a good gearing ratios for touring bikes.  -- small chain ring at 24 or 22 and --largest cassette at 34-36.

But in my reading and learning about touring bike being sold, i.e. LHT, 520, Kona, Randonee, Fuji, and so on, (I did not look at high end or custom bikes) I have not seen one bike that comes with such gearing as standard. 

My question is --what is the reasoning behind the difference between what people seem to be using and what bike manufacturers are offering.  If seems like it would be a big selling point to offer tour ready bikes?? 

Cheers, Keith

A few things come to mind.

First not everyone agrees that gearing quite that low is necessary.  Many are fine with a 26-30 T granny ring and a 28-32 largest cog even for mountain touring.  Also not everyone who tours rides in the mountains.

Second, a lot of "touring bikes" never actually tour.  They get used for general riding around town, commuting, or whatever.

Third, as was said already they get what the component manufacturer sells as a group or at least recommends to be used together.

And fourth, I suspect that like so many gear choices what folks talk about on these and other online groups isn't necessarily what you will find everyone using on tour.

17
I agree that riding with a partner can add a lot of friction and really be a downer.  If you really want to ride with someone, I'd advise being prepared to go it alone at any time and making it clear that either party can choose to split at any time.

It can work out well if touring and lifestyles are similar enough, but that can be tough.  Things like having one person who is an early riser and wants to break camp in 10 minutes and one who wants to sleep in or take an hour or two to break camp can drive both crazy.

I have met quite a few solo riders who had started out with someone, had a big meltdown, and split.

I have had one good tour with someone I met online just for the tour, but even that was probably more hassle than riding alone.  It was fortunate that we both liked to get up and broke camp early and quickly.  We also had similar enough paces on most but not all terrain and wanted to ride similar daily distances.  Even then there was some friction.  Fortunately we split for some portions of the trip since he had mechanical problems and needed to order parts and wait for them several times.  He then busted his butt to catch up.  When he caught up he said he was so happy to have someone to ride with and I thought how nice it had been to be alone for a few days.  I noticed that I met and enjoyed the company of the local folks much more when I was alone.

I will say that it is easier to make allowances for a companion if it is someone that you love, or at least like enough to make those allowances.  I have had some nice trips with my grown daughter.

18
Not a lady obviously, but I wash my riding shorts every night and wear the same pair every day. It's simple, you only need one pair, and you wear clean shorts every day.

I do almost the same.  I also put on running shorts upon arrival in camp to air out.  I take one pair of bike shorts and wash them out most nights.  Sometimes I put them inside out in the sun either instead of washing or in addition to it.  The sun is a powerful disinfectant treatment.  It kills what ever is trying to grow there.

Wearing underwear with bike shorts is not the norm, but the two gals I rode the TA with did that.  That way they could carry a few pairs of underwear which packed a lot smaller and lighter than carrying that many pairs of shorts.

19
A backpacking quilt would work well on tour. Lighter and more compact than a sleeping bag. They come in 40 & 20 degree models. A warm hat and extra clothes help extend the range of whatever you choose.

Quilts are popular in the light backpacking community and work well for a lot of folks, but I didn't find that the advantages actually completely panned out for me. 

I found that for me a quilt needed to have enough width to prevent drafts that it weighs as much and packs as large as my high end slim cut sleeping bag.  I also found that when it gets really cold zipping up tight and drawing the hood drawstring make the bag substantially warmer than a quilt.  Additionally I find that I can zip my sleeping bag open and use it like a quilt in warmer conditions.

There are times when I would take a quilt instead of a bag, but if I have to pick one to do it all the bag wins out for me.

On the other hand quilts are easy to make for DIYers and can be inexpensive to purchase.

20
Routes / Re: Transam West to East; Florence or Astoria?
« on: July 12, 2015, 07:58:03 am »
I will be riding from Oregon to Canon City, CO on the transam starting in early August.   I initially planned to ride from Astoria, but a cyclist I met told me that the route from Astoria down the coast was pretty awful for cycling and he recommended starting in Florence.
If you want to opt for a few less miles or feel the logistics work better for Florence it is an OK place to start, but I am baffled that anyone would find the start in Astoria awful.  I thought that part of the coast was very pleasant.

You might also consider starting in Canon City and deciding between Florence and Astoria when you get there.

21
It depends to a large extent on two things:
1. How warm you sleep.
2. How accurately your bag is rated.

Both can vary widely.  If you use a bag with an EN rating the rating will at least be consistent.

On the TA I used a cheap, very optimistically rated 30 F bag.  It is probably really a 40 F bag if it was actually given the EN testing.  I was fine, but I sleep pretty warm.  Starting May 1 in the east I think you might see less cold weather than we did starting June 11 in the west, but it is a bit of a crap shoot.

I put out heat like a furnace, people who sleep colder might want a 20 F bag or at least a 32 F bag with a real (EN) 32 F rating.

22
A follow up on the motel costs.  If you pick and choose when/where you get a room vs camping you can sometimes find very inexpensive ones here and there.  If you need to stay in one every night there will probably be times when the only room available is $100 or more.

On the TA we paid for a motel room once and were treated to one once.  If sharing a room I am more likely to spring for it, especially if they have a decent hot breakfast. We did have some luck asking if they gave a discount to coast to coast cyclists, but these days I usually only ask for an AARP discount.  Most will have that and a AAA discount.

Two or more people splitting a room with a fresh waffle breakfast included makes the cost easier to manage.  On the ST we were comped a room once because my companion was riding for a charity.

If you say "I am riding coast to coast on my bicycle, do you have a cyclists discount?", they will typically knock off a few bucks.  Still it will be MUCH cheaper to camp on the TA than to get rooms.

I find that I save less on food by doing my own cooking so I do a mix of cooking and eating at diners and such.  Diner food and subway foot long subs are hard to beat by much cost wise.  They will load on all the veggies that you ask for on the foot long.  If you mostly drink water you will save a lot.  I do find that a gatoraid, powerade, or chocolate milk hits the spot at breaks in hot weather though, but it is best to just skip the soft drinks IMO.  Also regular alcohol consumption will add to the cost greatly.

23
There is no reason you can't do a self supported TA with your current bike and a small amount of inexpensive gear.  I have gone with a variety of gear and a variety of packing styles.  If you don't go crazy buying high end gear you can go much cheaper self supported rather than credit carding it.  I have met folks touring with only very inexpensive gear and they were having as much fun as anyone.

John's estimate of motel costs is conservative and as he said you can buy a lot of gear for $3500.  It is definitely possible to buy everything including the bike, pay airfare to and from the trip, and cover food and camping fees and stay under that amount.  If you are really frugal you could do it for way under that amount.

Take only what you need and the rack and panniers you have are probably adequate.  You can put a bar roll on the front and strap the tent on the top of the rack to stretch capacity a bit.  It is pretty easy to get packed weight down to 30 pounds and 20 pounds isn't crazy light.

I'd suggest you buy a fairly inexpensive tent like maybe a Eureka Spitfire 1 ($140), use a pop can stove, and pick a sleeping bag and pad that suits your budget.  You can get by with a $12 foam pad and a $70 sleeping bag or you can splurge on nicer stuff.  I used a cheap bag and an old thermarest on the TA (my first tour), but later splurged on a real nice bag and a NeoAir pad.  I like the nice $$$ pad and bag, but was OK with the cheaper stuff.

The bottom line is that you can tour with $200-300 of gear or you can spend a lot more.  The thing is that the folks I met going really cheap seemed to be having as much fun as the folks that dropped a bundle of gear.

Camping on the TA can easily average <$5 per day without too much effort to go cheap and some have managed $0 per day.

Eating can be cheap or expensive depending on your choices.  I like to cook dinner in camp, but often eat breakfast or lunch in a diner or restaurant.

I wrote a couple articles that might help.  Check them out at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/frugal
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight

24
Gear Talk / Re: Trunk bag for Tubus Evo Cargo Rack
« on: July 07, 2015, 02:29:11 pm »
I never liked trunk bags much either.  I owned one and it sat pretty much unused for years after briefly trying it.  I think I might have actually given it away when I moved recently.  If just taking a a little extra clothing and stuff I am way more likely to throw on one small pannier.  A nashbar or performance waterproof front pannier is what I am most likely to grab and it typically goes on the back rack.  Alternately I might grab a small lightweight backpack like the REI Flash 18 or maybe the little Sea 2 Summit ultrasil daypack and ride one of the bikes without a rack.

25
General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 05, 2015, 09:07:34 pm »
IMHO West to East will be easier if you are low on conditioning. East to West has more steeper climbs early on.
I found that to be true.  In fact I found the Appalachians to be the hardest part and the climbs out of the river valleys in the Ozarks were a challenge as well.

But I believe you will hook up and share the experience with more riders going east-west. This is from reading several journals and my experience as well.
I didn't notice that, but I have only done it W-E.  Not sure why that would be the case.  I am curious, care to elaborate?

26
General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 05, 2015, 08:26:19 am »
I am planning a TransAmerica Self-supported bike tour with my wife in 2016. Which direction is optimal and why? We will do the middle of the country Adventure Cycling Route- I believe Astoria and Virginia Beach?!

There are quite a few possible factors to consider, but to me the most important are weather and which end is closest to home.

Wrt weather and direction of travel, basically if you go early in the season start in the east and avoid the heat and humidity there and the snow in the Rockies.  If you go later in the season starting in the west works well.

If you live near one end or the other, my preference is to fly to the far coast to start.  It is easy to know when you will start a tour, but knowing when you will finish is another matter.  That makes it easier to plan air travel for the start.  Also it is nice to have friends and family to meet at the end.

People often mention wind as a factor and suggest riding W-E because of the supposed prevailing westerlies.  That would make sense if you were traveling at 30,000' of altitude.  I wouldn't choose direction of travel for the TA based on the winds, but if I did I'd go east to west.  In the middle of the country the Trans America angles southeast and the surface winds in the Great Plains tend to be out of the SE in summer.


27
Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Highway on a road bike?
« on: July 02, 2015, 06:41:45 pm »
a stove isn't at all necessary if you're trying to pack light. Personally, the last thing I want to do at camp is spend an hour warming a can of beans, then have to clean up etc, although I've seen plenty of tourers that do it.

I'd agree that you can get by without cooking, and if that is what you prefer that is great, but...
I think you overstate the negatives.  My cooking gear weighs 7.1 ounces in its lightest form so it is possible to go light and still cook.  The beans sound kind of bleak, but I don't think I have resorted to a can of beans more than a very few times and when I did I heated them in the can, so almost no clean up.  For me taking the cooking gear is kind of automatic.

28
General Discussion / Re: What's an 'average' day?
« on: July 02, 2015, 07:06:24 am »
There has been some mention of mileage vs smelling the roses.  My experience is that it isn't an either or choice.  Some folks manage to chat up the locals, see the sites, and even do some side hikes while doing long miles.  Some do short miles, still miss a lot of the sights, don't talk to the locals, and hole up in their campsite or a motel room for most of their down time.

How well you see the sights and meet the folks has more to do with your openness to it than the mileage you ride unless you are racing RAAM or something.  I know that even on my longest day (142 miles including a mountain pass) I managed to take a lot of pictures, meet interesting local folks, observe the wildlife, enjoy the scenery, and even sit and relax a bit.

There are a lot of hours in the day and I find it more important how you use the time both on and off the bike than how much time you have.  I guess what I am saying is that being open to the experiences is more important than allowing extra time for them.

29
Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Highway on a road bike?
« on: July 01, 2015, 07:23:45 am »
Once you bring camping into the mix, packing light is not really feasible.
Not that I would ever go this light myself, but you should check out Pete's gear list:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=tS&page_id=301886&v=Y

His gear weights just 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and he takes a tarp, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, bivy sack, stove, pot, utensils. He even has a pillow, for Pete's sake.

Yes that is true and I find that I am pretty comfortable when packing very light and camping and cooking.  My actual trip weights have been a little higher than what was listed in that link since I often take a few luxuries, but I could go with that weight and be fine.  On the Southern Tier I was carrying 14 pounds of gear, but that included some heavier than necessary items that were later replaced and some luxury items including a fairly big camera with an extra telephoto lens.  I definitely could have easily left a few pounds of stuff home or taken some lighter items and still been very comfortable.

There are conditions where I don't like the bivy, but even when I take a tent I can still stay quite light.  If biting insects aren't a problem I usually cowboy camp anyway only climbing into the bivy if it gets cold and windy or it rains.  Trips where I think it will be hot, humid, and buggy every night I take a light tent, otherwise a bivy or a bug bivy work fine.

BTW, it doesn't have to be expensive to go ultralight since much of the reduction is done by eliminating things.  There are fewer items to buy and you need less luggage to carry them.  I can get by with a stuff sack under the saddle (or on the rear rack if using one), a stuff sack used as a bar roll, and maybe a tiny backpack.  I think my gear expenses are probably less than average, despite the fact that I splurge on a few items including a very good and somewhat expensive sleeping bag and sleeping pad.

Going fully self supported with a very light minimalist approach probably isn't for everyone, but it is definitely possible and for those suited to it comfortable.  Having done a good bit of it I doubt that I will go back to a much heavier style of packing.

30
General Discussion / Re: What's an 'average' day?
« on: June 30, 2015, 07:20:41 am »
Most of the folks that I know who planned longer daily mileages typically found that they averaged a bit less than they expected.

What is average may not really be meaningful to you, but I think that in the range of touring riders most fall in the 50-70 mile per day range.  A fair number are 10 miles per day on either side of that range, and just a few are farther outside that range in either direction.  Folks averaging 100 miles per day are fairly rare.

That said the terrain you picked sounds like it is pretty good for knocking out longer mileage.

One other thing...  I highly recommend open ended schedules.  Allow more time than you need and finish when you finish whether that is early or late.  Set schedules can be joy killers.  BTW, the same applies to budgets.  It keeps things stress free to have more time and money than you need.  It doesn't mean you have to use more of either, but having options is nice.

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